Apr 1, 2009

Weekly Planner & Lasagne

I need a plan. I'm blogging all over the place and it's getting terribly disorganized and messy. I can't keep up with myself like this. Being the anal Taurean that I am, I feel the need to write down a posting schedule to de-clutter my disarrayed brain. This also serves to quench my listmania, which I have been neglecting for a while. I will structure my blog-week much like a menu (by now you should know how food rules my every move). You can consider it your regular kitchen prompt, the inspiration for those days when you don't know what to cook; or a chat pantry (instead of a chat room), where apron-clad folks hang around and dish between meals. With all of you in mind, I'd like my weekly planner to be the Salon's bill of fare. Here it is, for your consideration.

Moleskine Planner photo courtesy of Rohdesign

Mondays are Mellow Yellow, I will post a photograph with a lot (or a little) yellow in it, caption it and discuss it with whoever feels like commenting. This short post will also give me a chance to catch up on my blogland buddies and their posts, which I so love to read and comment.

Tuesdays will be a days devoted to journal writing, memes, news, fun non-food topics (oh sure!), grocery shopping (CSA pick up at the local farmer's market, and Mirko's catch of the day delivery). On occasion, Tuesday will be dedicated to new group events and general blogosphere exploration.

Wednesdays we play the What's Cooking Wednesday game hosted by Shannon @ Tales of The Fairy Blogmother. And this is where the menu part of the plan comes into action. I've decided to start off each mid-week with a Pasta/Risotto/Soup dish, alternating it with an Antipasto recipe.

Thursday I will serve a main course. Meat/Fish/Egg or Cheese-based. I will sometimes make it vegetarian, oftentimes not. I will link it to the Love Thursday weekly roundup, but only if it fits the subject (I always cook with my heart).

Fridays will be for Side Dishes, Salads, Sauces & Condiments or special Breads. Again here, like for every post, I will look forward to your interactive feedback.

Saturday we party hard, indulging in decadent Desserts, classic Drinks and steadfast Wine or Champagne accompaniment.

Sunday I'm usually very busy with family, so according to my mood and energy level, I will either post a Sunday special, or simply recap the week's menu overview. Which conveniently turns out to be the typical complete Italian meal. Sunday should also be a day of rest, one where I occasionally treat myself to dining out. This will inevitably stir up new material for my restaurant review blog, Forchettine, for Italian language readers.

The schedule of course is flexible and may vary. It also needs one more ingredient to be complete, and that's you. I need you to shape the menu with me, I will comply with your requests, tweak my knowledge to yours, research, and keep my ears and arms open for new suggestions, critique and whatever tip, cooking "no-no," or story you might want to share in your comments.

~ ~

So let's get right to the heart of our plan in this week's What's Cooking Wednesday edition, with a nice truckload of:

Lasagne al Pesto
This is a pleasant alternative to the meaty "red" lasagna. The delicate mixture of flavors, and the lightness of this particular baked dish make it an excellent starter. For those concerned with ethical eating, pesto lasagna is furthermore a vegetarian preparation.

Let's talk ingredients before we begin cooking. If you've been following this blog, you'll have recently learned how to make your own homemade fresh pasta from scratch. You can either decide to apply that pasta knowledge with this dish, or turn instead to packaged dry lasagna, if pressed for time or just plain lazy. In both cases, you'll need to pre-cook the lasagna sheets before assembling the actual dish.
Now onto the condiments. If on one hand I trust store-bought pesto sauce (there are even some brands which market organic pesto), I steer away from commercially-sold béchamel. There's something about mixing milk, flour and butter into homemade béchamel, that makes all the difference in the world. In this dish, the delicate white sauce contrasts the audacious aroma of the pesto, adding creaminess and a mild layer in the bold baked statement. Let's therefore begin by whisking up the béchamel, which is the "hardest" part of this otherwise very simple recipe. While you preheat your oven at 180°C (356°F)...

Assemble the following for the béchamel:
  • 100gr (1/2 cup) flour, sifted
  • 100gr (1/2 cup) butter
  • 1 lt (4 cups) whole milk, boiling
  • A pinch of ground nutmeg
  • Salt
Melt the butter over low heat in a stainless steel pan. Gradually sprinkle in the flour, and stir well with a wooden spoon until smooth in consistency; cook gently until the mixture becomes a light golden color. Gradually add the boiling hot milk, stirring to avoid forming lumps. Cook for at least 15 minutes, stirring constantly.
When the béchamel becomes rich and creamy in consistency – not too thick and not to runny, rather forming ribbons on the surface as it dribbles from the spoon – remove from the heat, adjust salt, and add a wee pinch of powdered nutmeg.

Very good, upon completing this step, you're done 3/4 of the way. Is your appetite awakening?
Now we blanch and build.
  • 1 kg (2 lbs) uncooked lasagne (store-bought or fresh)
  • 200 gr (1 cup) pesto sauce
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 stick of butter + more for greasing the oven pan
  • Parmigiano, grated
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a rolling boil. Add a tablespoon of olive oil to it so the pasta won't stick during cooking. Cook the lasagne sheets for 5 minutes, fish them out with a slotted spoon and lay them flat to dry on a clean kitchen towel. Keep aside a glass of the pasta cooking water, and stir 2 tablespoons (or more) of it in the pesto sauce.

Butter a large, high rimmed 9" x 13" baker pan, and lay a single layer of parboiled lasagna sheets to cover the bottom, just barely overlapping them. Smear evenly with 3-4 tablespoons of slightly diluted pesto sauce and a wee drizzle of olive oil. Next, slather on the béchamel and a few flakes of butter. Dust with a light hand of grated Parmigiano, and repeat the layers until you reach the top of the baker pan, or you run out of lasagna sheets. Should find you are running low on béchamel, you can always make more. It's never too much. On the other hand, having too little could signify a dry, parched final outcome. We want scrumptious, succulent and creamy.
For best results, overdo the top layer with béchamel, butter flakes and grated Parmigiano.

Bake your masterwork, warming it through in the oven for 10 minutes, or until a crispy, golden crust forms.
The bitter sea tang of a good Vermentino white will offset the pesto's garlic perfectly, and have you smiling for days.


  1. Yumm This looks delish1 I love pesto, we enjoy storing last years crop in the freezer ice cube trays, to enjoy all winter.
    You do wonderful work on your blog, plus you must be a busy mom!

  2. I did not even know one COULD make one's own bechamel sauce! I'm definitely going to try it. We have basil in our garden in the summer and pesto is a staple in our house. You do a wonderful and serious job with your blog - does it ever interfere with your work (like I'm doing now?)

  3. Chuck & Jennifer - how cool that you both have enough basil to stash away pesto, that is a huge fortune!

    I *am* quite busy mothering and trying to balance the budget, but fortunately I have a job that allows me a lot of flexibility... in the sense that I'm unemployed often! I'm a film industry crew member, freelance writer, stay at home mom and blogger all in one girl. Talk about ubiquitous! Thanks for the thumbs up.

  4. Gosh how organized you are or want to be. It must be your American side. I gave up. I am chaotic and whimsical and don't think I'll ever change. I might comment on your much older posts. Hope you don't mind. Ciao!

    Many of your words are a feast.

  5. Thank you MoR! Please peruse my older posts, they feel very lonely way back there in the "retrovie" (the English to that term doesn't come to mind right now... 'behind the front lines?'). How silly, why would I mind?

    I am as (if not more) chaotic, unorganized and whimsical than anyone I know, but sometimes my alter ego (perhaps more American than not) takes over and imposes order :)

  6. This is one of the first things I'm going to try when I get back from India in two weeks. My son LOVES lasagna. And baked for only 10 minutes? Wow!

  7. I just love saying the word "bechamel". It even sounds decadent.

    I'll swan, chica, you are more organized than me and I'm a Virgo. We beat your Taurus Bulls hands down when it comes to anal retention.

    Do you color coordinate your closet? Socks? Label/date the food in your freezer? Pull other people's weeds as you walk because they bug you?

    Gimme what you got.

  8. Sujatha - Yes! The great part of this lasagna is that it basically only needs warming! Your son plays like Benedetti Michelangeli and loves lasagna, sounds like a cool guy.

    Py - Not only do I color coordinate closets, drawer contents and lable all the food in the freezer, but I also use matching color clothespins to fasten the wash on the clothesline. Blue underwear, blue peg; yellow socks; yellow peg, pink towel, pink peg... I haven't done the weed thing, but now that you mention it...

  9. Lola, go girl; but feel free to change the schedule too. After all, you are the ultimate producer here. I love the recipes, not because I follow them, but because many readers cook with recipes. You make everything look so delicious.

  10. Lola this is fantastic.

    At my salon I love your food. I am starting to dream of it.

    I mentioned to my good friend Tessa (please check her out on my comments and go connect to her) about your blog. She is incredible in every way and seems to be an outstanding cook too.

    Go see what she cooked today for the salon. I think you two would be the best of friends and need to hook up.

    Hook up babe.

    Love Renee xoxoxo

  11. I like the daily menu. Reading your blog makes me want to cook. You mentioned a book in your last post...writing? want to write? already published and I can rush out to get it?

  12. Lola, with long and wonderful posts like these, no wonder things are getting messy. You blog with love, too! As usual I'm hungry now after reading a little on your blog. This is not good. But, yes, it is. I love your blog.

    I've been toying with the idea of a blogging schedule, too, so I'll watch yours with interest. I don't do well with rules, so I don't think it will work for me, but--never say never.

    I'm determined to make your homemade pasta as soon as I can.

  13. Rosaria - Thank you! The recipes are an excuse, it's the story around them, their 'raison d'etre' that counts. Ciao dear friend

    Renee - I'm glad you like it, doll. Tessa and I are already friends, it's lovely and kind of you to have thought we would mesh, because we do!

    Michael - I've written a book, yes. And I just got my first turndown from Clarkson Potter yesterday. That deserves a celebration too!

    Sallymandy - I'm never good with rules either...

  14. Well, I know what I'm fixing for lunch today! Thanks! :-)

  15. Brava. Ciao and buon appetito, then!

  16. Oh YES! We do indeed mesh, Lola and I. Dear Renee, you always get it spot on.

    Lola, please oh please collect all your recipes of pure scrumptiousness and compile them into a book which we all, the world over, can buy (signed, of course) and keep as a treasure in our kitchens. You make cooking sound so joyous, so exciting, such an adventure. Each ingredient so lovingly selected, every step of the process a dance and the outcome - oh, an orchestral crescendo! Bravissimo!

    And your list, your schedule - we have something wonderful to look forward to every day of the week.

  17. Tessa: As I told Renee, who left a very similar comment on a recent post (you two are truly joined at the hip), I *have* written a book! The manuscript sits restlessly at the bottom of my desk, waiting for a publisher to consider it. So far I've gotten one reply (a turndown) by Clarkson Potter and not much else. I'm touched by your words, it means I'm going in the right direction!

  18. Being an author, myself, I understand your comment about celebrating rejection letters. I've heard so many stories about stacks and stacks of rejection letters, but it means that you are that much closer to being published - so congratulations!

  19. 情趣用品,情趣用品,情趣用品,情趣用品,情趣用品,情趣用品,情趣,情趣,情趣,情趣,情趣,情趣,情趣用品,情趣用品,情趣,情趣,A片,A片,情色,A片,A片,情色,A片,A片,情趣用品,A片,情趣用品,A片,情趣用品,a片,情趣用品A片,A片,AV女優,色情,成人,做愛,情色,AIO,視訊聊天室,SEX,聊天室,自拍,AV,情色,成人,情色,aio,sex,成人,情色免費A片,美女視訊,情色交友,免費AV,色情網站,辣妹視訊,美女交友,色情影片,成人影片,成人網站,H漫,18成人,成人圖片,成人漫畫,情色網,日本A片,免費A片下載,性愛情色文學,色情A片,A片下載,色情遊戲,色情影片,色情聊天室,情色電影,免費視訊,免費視訊聊天,免費視訊聊天室,一葉情貼圖片區,情色視訊,免費成人影片,視訊交友,視訊聊天,言情小說,愛情小說,AV片,A漫,AVDVD,情色論壇,視訊美女,AV成人網,成人交友,成人電影,成人貼圖,成人小說,成人文章,成人圖片區,成人遊戲,愛情公寓,情色貼圖,色情小說,情色小說,成人論壇免費A片,AV女優,美女視訊,情色交友,色情網站,免費AV,辣妹視訊,美女交友,色情影片,成人網站,H漫,18成人,成人圖片,成人漫畫,成人影片,情色網A片,A片,A片下載,做愛,成人電影,.18成人,日本A片,情色小說,情色電影,成人影城,自拍,情色論壇,成人論壇,情色貼圖,情色,免費A片,成人,成人網站,成人圖片,AV女優,成人光碟,色情,色情影片,免費A片下載,SEX,AV,色情網站,本土自拍,性愛,成人影片,情色文學,成人文章,成人圖片區,成人貼圖